CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern volleyball opens the 2016 season on the road as the Buccaneers travel to Cullowhee, N.C. and Western Carolina University for the Catamount Volleyball Classic. CSU will take on Tennessee Tech, host Western Carolina and UAB over the two day tournament held inside the Ramsey Center.
Scouting the Opposition
Tennessee Tech was selected seventh in the Ohio Valley Conference poll announced prior to the 2016 season. Junior outside hitter Kellie Williams was TTU's lone selection to the preseason OVC team after averaging 2.80 kills per set and a .180 attack percentage in the 2015 season. Charleston Southern is one of two Big South teams to take on Tennessee Tech in 2016 with TTU facing Radford next weekend at the Samford - UAB Challenge in Birmingham, Ala.
After a trip to the semifinals in last year's OVC Tournament, this season, the Golden Eagle squad did not change much with the loss of just one player from that squad. TTU added six new Tech players including: Liz Bossong, Emily Brooks, Rachel Thomas, Abigail Duncan, Lexi Kingree, and Taylor Houck.
Western Carolina was selected eighth in the Southern Conference poll announced prior to the 2016 season. The Catamounts did not have a member selected to the preseason All-Conference team. WCU will face off against several Big South opponents in the 2016 season with the Catamounts traveling to Winthrop and UNC Asheville in September.
With a roster of 12, the competition on the court has been strong with everyone battling for a starting position. WCU returns just two student-athletes who started the final match last season in juniors Jo-Leigh VerVelde and Katie O'Connor. WCU also lost its starting libero and will look to either junior Reeve Reinsborough or freshman Meagan Sanchez to fill that role.
UAB was selected 12th in the Conference USA poll announced prior to the 2016 season. Senior outside hitter Gabby Deshotel was named to the C-USA Preseason All-Conference team after leading the Blazers in kills (504) and attacks (1,473) in the 2015 season. UAB will take on one more Big South team in the 2016 season as the Blazers will host Radford next weekend at the Blazer Classic in Birmingham, Ala.
Jillian Tingle also returns for the UAB squad after a standout freshman campaign that saw her average 2.10 kills per set. Defensively, Jared Haley is the team's returning leader on the backline with 1.87 digs per set.